While it’s impossible to boil down 5,000 years of teachings into a single article, the good news is you don’t need to know everything to welcome Ayurveda into your life and benefit from its practices. Often regarded as the first system of medicine ever established, Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic healing system for mind, body and spirit. An Ayurvedic lifestyle can help you stay healthy, recover faster from illness, and set the stage for a long life of wellbeing.
The word “ayurveda” is Sanskrit for knowledge of life and longevity. One of the underlying principles of Ayurveda is that we are both energy and matter combined. Each of us, and everything that is, is comprised of the five great elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space. These building blocks create foundation and structure, movement and circulation, transformation, light, metabolism, cohesiveness, digestion, and secretions. The elements are combined in varying amounts within each of us and our environment. Your unique combination of elements makes up your predominant body composition, or dosha.
There are three Ayurvedic dosha types, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata is space and air. Pitta is fire and water. Kapha is water and earth. The primary dosha you’re born with is your prakruti, your natural way of being. Ayurveda aims to restore you back to this essential balance. When the doshas are disturbed by lifestyle choices and/or environmental conditions, signs of imbalance manifest as disease in both the mind and body.
Like all sentient beings, we’re designed to follow the laws of nature. Circadian rhythms, seasons, lunar and daily cycles are but a few natural movements that affect the doshas. There are many dosha quizzes online to give you an idea of what your dosha is so that you can begin creating a daily routine that will support you in balancing yourself and addressing the areas where you feel out of balance.
In Ayurveda, food is medicine and a good digestive fire (agni) is one of the keys to good health. If food is not being properly digested, nutrients are not being assimilated, and waste is not being efficiently eliminated. This undigested food throughout the system leads to the accumulation of toxins, ama, which in Ayurveda is the source of illness. If your energy is being wasted just trying to get rid of what you intentionally put in, then you are not effectively using your vehicle to live life to the fullest.
Some Ayurvedic practices are relatively easy to incorporate into your daily self care routine. Basic practices include:
- Beginning your day with hot water and lemon or lime in the morning
- Scraping your tongue with a metal scraper before brushing your teeth
- Oiling your head
- Using a neti pot
- Massaging your body with oil
- Oil pulling by swishing oil vigorously in your mouth for 30 seconds, like mouthwash
- Earthing by walking on the ground with bare feet
To learn more about Ayurveda look for a good Ayurvedic practitioner in your area.